Van Steenberge Golden In 2-1 Title Victory Over Vikings
Concordia won its first-ever GNAC Championships title in front of its home crowd in Portland on Saturday.
Concordia won its first-ever GNAC Championships title in front of its home crowd in Portland on Saturday.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – For a second consecutive season, No. 6 Western Washington and 17th-ranked Concordia met on Saturday in the GNAC Championships title match.

This chapter featured a different ending than the first, as the Cavaliers were able to avenge an overtime loss from a year ago with a golden goal victory of their own. It was forward Sydney Van Steenberge who got to play hero, driving home the winning strike with just 35 seconds remaining in overtime.

"It was crossed in and I saw an open opportunity," said Van Steenberge while recounting the goal. "I was just able to run behind the outside back and finish it."

After splitting the season series, CU used a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal to advance to their second-straight Division II NCAA West Regional berth.

After a defensive opening 20 minutes, the host school got on the board first. Using a beautiful ball played into the box by Van Steenberge, Karlie Hurley headed a pass to midfielder Kasey Ames, who promptly headed the ball into the corner of the net. Ames was named the tournament MVP after tallying two goals on three shots in two matches.

The Vikings didn't waste much time in finding an equalizer, staying calm and ultimately evening the score at 1-1 in the match's 42nd minute. 

Just a few minutes after entering the contest as a substitute, Alice Hiebert handled a free ball from just a few yards out and powered it past the goalkeeper. The goal was Hiebert's third on the 2018 campaign.

The match remained even for another 56 minutes before deciding a winner.

After a tense nine-plus minutes of overtime, the tournament's two-seed mounted one last attack before time expired.

It began with Kyra Radcliffe dribbling the ball outside the box and continued with Radcliffe sliding a pass through the feet of one WWU defender and past two others. Ultimately it ended with Van Steenberge, flying in from the outside to collect the pass and put it into the net, setting off a wild celebration at Tuominen Yard.

The Concordia win snapped Western Washington's 13-match unbeaten streak, a stretch that began after the Vikings fell by one goal on the same field back in September.

Both teams now await their future postseason fates and turn their sights to Monday's NCAA selection show, which will begin at 3:30 p.m. (PST).

"This victory puts us in a great position," said head coach Grant Landy. "We know we're advancing to the next level, and if we're chosen as a host that's great. But if not we're still going to be happy with this well-earned win."